Norwegian sludge/post-metal quintet Subnoir dropped out their monstrous full-length debut jam “A Long Way From Home” back in February, and it is still one of the albums that I keep in high regard for the year’s best release. Singer/guitarist Kenneth Mellum and keyboardist Peter Alexander Haugen reveal for Rocking Charts what it took to write this epic album.
Hey there. How are you doing?
K: Hello! Im good Enjoying a cold beer at home, he he. Hope you are doing well yourself!
P: Hi! I second the beer thing. And the “Hope you’re dong well”-thing too!
Back in February, you launched your debut album entitled “A Long Way From Home.” How do you feel about the release now some seven months after it was launched?
K: I am very proud! We really poured our souls and hearts into this album. Its literally made of blood, sweat and tears. And I’m really happy how it turned out.
P: It feels good. I still get excited every time I listen to the songs.
How much of a challenge was to work on the album?
K: It was a journey, I can tell you that much. We weren’t sure where we were going with the music, and we also had some conflicting ideas. But in the end, we all agreed. We spent a lot of time to experiment with different sounds and dynamic approaches to the songs. The easy part was to write the songs, but the difficult part was to make it sound good, and huge! Our producer and guitarist Jørgen Øiseth Berg did a tremendous job with this album.
P: It was at times very frustrating, especially in post-production. We found it hard to get to the point where we could say: “This is it! This is how we want the record to sound”. We kept going back to make changes in production and arrangement long after the recording sessions were done. It’s easy to lose track of what really matters in a song when you’re working like that, but we didn’t have a deadline so we just kept going until we eventually saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a pain in the ass when we were in the middle of it, but I think it has left us in a place where we are very aware of how we want to proceed artistically in the future. We had time to think things through!
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Norway are you friends with? Recommend us some bands to check out.
K: A few weeks back, I did a temp job as a vocalist for a band called Timeworn, they are playing a hybrid of sludge, progressive and melodic metal. Very talented guys, I highly recommend them. They sound very different compared to other bands around here.
Also I want to recommend my guitarists band, Fauna Timbre. They play melodic doom metal combined with alternative rock. They have a album coming out 31 October, I strongly recommend their album!
What is your opinion about the current metal scene?
P: I think it is very diverse, which is a good thing. Of course you still got some bigger acts sort of dominating the scene but you can pretty much find something for everyone these days. Even among the biggest bands you have great diversity and a healthy focus on melody which seems to have sort of been coming and going over the years. The more extreme stuff is so accepted that bands playing that kind of music have every chance to thrive as long as they actually make good music. People keep saying that because of the state of the music business we won’t have a new giant like Metallica or Priest or whatever and that’s probably true. I don’t mind, I think we are better off with diversity. Metal was never about being a superstar anyways. The biggest problem with metal today is you won’t be able to provoke anybody because metal is accepted as art. And if you provoke you have to be so disgusting nobody will actually listen to you, haha!
Can you tell me something about your influences?
K: I draw influences from a lot of different stuff. It can be like watching liveshows of my favourite bands, looking at their energy, or I can draw inspirations from trying to capture a feeling or a moment. Its kinda hard to pinpoint exactly what drives me.
P: For this record I was very interested in infusing a kind of cinematic sense of drama to some of the songs. I built a lot of my synth patches with influences like Vangelis and 70’s Pink Floyd in mind.
What are you listening to these days?
K: Im going trough a lot of Deftones and old Neurosis these days.
P: Nick Cave, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Nick Drake, Kvelertak, Lindstrøm, ELO
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
K: Oh, difficult task! I will list some of my favourites in no particular order:
1. Neurosis – Through Silver in Blood – Enough said.
2. Scarlet – This was always meant to fall apart. This album i never grow tired of. Too bad they quit. They have something special.
3. Cult of Luna – Somewhere Along the Highway. This is the album that got me into postmetal. Without this album, we wouldn’t be here today with our own album.
4. Pantheon I – Worlds I Create. Great album by friends of mine. I take this album out for a spin from time to time.
5. Opeth – Blackwater Park. What.an.album. I like to listen to this during the autumn.
P: Changes so often I stopped keeping track!
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “A Long Way From Home”?
K: We used a lot of old vintage amps, like Sovtek MIG50, Orange OD120 from 1976, Egnater and Fender Twin. Along with vintage guitars from the 70s and 80s.
P: My synths are all plugins. Diva and Tyrell from u-he, Massive and FM8 from NI, DB-33 for organs, Pianoteq for pianos. Lots of distortion and other effect-plugins too.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
K: We have a few gigs this autumn and we are also planning to make a music video for one of the tracks. I am also editing some live footage that maybe will see the light of day 😉 And to top things, we are working on our next album.
Any words for the potential new fans?
P: Check us out now while we are still new. That way you can be one of those annoying hipsters constantly telling people “I liked them from the first record before they sold out”.